The idea nearly became reality earlier this season, when Kershaw was close to signing a record-setting, seven-year extension in the $210 million range, according to major league sources.
The Dodgers backed off, though, and the two sides have not negotiated in months, sources said. Talks are unlikely to resume until the offseason, and by then Kershaw’s price could be even higher.
Kershaw, 25, leads the majors with a 1.72 ERA, which would be the fourth-best among all pitchers with 150 or more innings since the mound was lowered in 1969.
The Dodgers remain motivated to strike a deal – Kershaw, nearing the end of a two-year, $19 million contract, is eligible for arbitration after this season and free agency after the 2014 campaign.
The contract Kershaw and the Dodgers discussed would have included an opt-out clause, giving the pitcher the right to become a free agent after five years, sources said.
The average salary of approximately $30 million would have matched highest in baseball history: CC Sabathia’s $30 million, one-year extension with the New York Yankees in 2011.
The deal also would have been the largest ever for a pitcher, surpassing Justin Verlander’s seven-year, $180 million deal with the Detroit Tigers, and the sixth-highest overall. Verlander’s contract does not include an opt-out clause. Neither does the next-largest deal for a pitcher, Felix Hernandez’s seven-year, $175 million contract with the Seattle Mariners.
A five-year opt-out would allow Kershaw to hit the open market at 30 and perhaps secure an even bigger deal. The Dodgers granted a similar clause to free-agent right-hander Zack Greinke last offseason, enabling him to escape his six-year, $147 million contract after three years.
Kershaw and Greinke are represented by the same agent, Casey Close.